Saturday, March 19, 2011

Girly, Squared

I finished an adorable quilt for my boss...  No pressure there to turn out something fantastic, right?  Well, anyway, she came to me a few months ago and asked me to make a baby quilt for her soon-to-be granddaughter and I was more than happy to oblige.  I love sewing for my boys, but at heart, I'm a girly girl.

I had so much fun digging out all the pretty pinks and greens in my stash to whip this little beauty up.  I used some Tina Givens, Amy Butler, Joel Dewberry, Anna Maria Horner, Erin McMorris, and Heather Ross.  

I like the way the orange Innocent Crush helps to make the pastel pinks and greens look a little more mature.  I wanted this to be a quilt that would last from infancy through childhood and the orange gives it just the right amount of edge.  I chose to frame each of the feature fabrics with Kona Coal for the same reason.  The dark grey is a great (and very trendy) neutral, but it also lends just the right amount of "grown up" to the over-all look of the quilt.

I finished by sashing the quilt with Kona Pale Flesh (which I think we can all agree is the most unattractive name for any fabric ever), backing it with a vintage sheet I had in my stash, and binding it with a little more Coal.

So, back to the pressure of sewing something for my boss.  She's wonderful, and I knew she loved the fabric selection.  BUT!  Just as I was trying to finish this quilt, my sewing machine stopped working!  Luckily, my wonderful friend EmmmyLizzzy invited me and Pete up for a sleepover and to use her fabulous sewing machine.  She is a lifesaver.

All in all, the quilt was a huge success.  I didn't get to be there when the soon-to-be new mom opened it, but my boss very kindly posted to my facebook page that everyone loved it.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Garment Construction and My Favorite Coat

I've been sewing for about three years now.  I started with simple patchwork quilts and I have moved on to more challenging quilt blocks and I've begun sewing a lot of garments.  Mostly, I sew toddler-sized garments for my toddler-sized Pete, but I have tackled some dresses for myself as well.  All this to say, I feel like I have a pretty good sense of how pattern pieces for garments come together.  Sure, there's the occasional tricky turn to hide your seam allowances, but generally there's a predictable order to things.  Starting today, now that winter is nearly over and my winter coats will be packed away for the spring and summer, I'm going to be testing my garment making confidence.

A few years ago--maybe even before we were married, I don't honestly remember--my husband bought me the. Most. Beautiful. Coat. Ever.

Purchased at Express c. 2006
 Every time I wear this coat, I get compliments.  Most people say it looks vintage which is why I fell in love with it in the first place.  The coat is a creamy wool with a satin ruffle around the collar and down the front.  The belt is chocolate brown satin ribbon, and the lining is the same satin as the ruffle.  Unfortunately, the coat is beginning to show signs of wear.  You can see a little pilling on the wool in this photo, but the worst wear is happening inside the coat.

Satin is a notoriously difficult fabric.  It's slippery, it frays very easily, and it can wear and tear very easily as well.  The photos above are the armholes of my coat.  Basically, the lining has shredded all along the seams and, unfortunately, a little whip stitch is not going to help matters one bit.  Since I consider this coat to be probably my best "statement" piece for winter outerwear, I think it's worth taking the time to really restore it so that I can get as long a life out of it as possible.  So, I decided to cut the existing lining out of the coat and use it to draft a pattern to make a new lining.  I gotta admit, here, that I'm scared shitless that I'm never actually going to be able to wear this coat again--at least, not with a lining.

From top: 1" grid interfacing, Licien voile, inexpensive quilting weight cotton
I use the grided interfacing to trace all of my pattern pieces from purchased patterns, so I figure it will work equally as well for tracing around the existing lining pieces of my coat to create a pattern to work from.  That way, I don't have to continue to handle the fragile satin and hope it stays put while I trace it onto my good fabric.  I'm going to use the inexpensive quilting cotton to make a muslin.  I don't usually make a muslin when sewing store-bought patterns because money is tight and my time is tight, so I save both by just going for it.  In this case, however, I had the fabric in my stash and that voile up there is kinda precious.  I'd rather not have a technicolor lining a la Joseph due to having to piece fabrics together to make my lining, so I'm going to go full-tilt and make a muslin from the pattern pieces I draft.  Better safe than out 3 yards of gorgeous Japanese fabric.

If any of my sewing friends out there happen across this post and have words of wisdom, I'd sure love to hear them.  In the meantime, keep your fingers crossed for me!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sketchbook Shirt

Well, the hubs and I have been house shopping since shortly after Christmas which has used up most of my free time, unfortunately.  It's hard to start--let alone finish--projects when my days off are all dedicated to house hunting.  We almost had "the one", but it turned out not to be the one at all.

I have, however, managed to squeeze in a little sewing.  Two of my favorite blogs, Made by Rae and MADE have been hosting Celebrate the Boy month, which has inspired me to get sewing some things for my favorite little boy.

Last year on my birthday, I won a giveaway hosted by Oliver + S and my prize was a copy of the Sketchbook Shirt and Shorts pattern.  I finally opened it up and made something with it.

The first version I made is the short-sleeved option.  I chose a cotton poplin fabric with a subtle orange and grey pinstripe pattern.  The shirt is the perfect weight for summer.  The curved hemline  and careful construction techniques make the shirt look, as Nate put it, like it comes from the store.  The details make all the difference between "homemade" and "handmade".

The second version I made is the long-sleeved option.  This one is a cozy flannel and I plan on making Nate a matching shirt since Peter has been wanting to do everything just like his Daddy recently.  To add some interest to the front of the shirt, I cut the pocket piece on the bias.  Both shirts came together reasonably quickly.  I started the flannel shirt on Friday night, about 8:00 pm and had it done by Saturday afternoon--and that time included correcting several mistakes made due to sewing late into the evening while drinking a glass of wine.

Probably my favorite part of the long-sleeved option on the shirt are the details that make the cuff of the sleeve look so beautifully finished.  It's hard to tell in this picture, but there's a little placket that finishes the slit cut to make the sleeve go on and off easily.

Sewing for Pete is a little bittersweet.  He out-grows things so quickly, but I absolutely love seeing him in something that I made. He seems to like wearing the things I make, too.  Or maybe he likes that kit-kat he's eating...